NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: AI And Cyberattacks On The Power System

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    Wednesday, April 22, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: AI And Cyberattacks On The Power System

    In the 'cat and mouse game' of utility cyberattacks, AI and machine learning show promise, limits; "There is so much low hanging fruit in utility system challenges that can be addressed by advanced data analytic strategies that AI and machine learning are not the place to start."

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 7, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Tomorrow’s AI is the sexy answer but today’s technologies are the real answer.

    If somebody hacked communications to grid-connected devices and interrupted a demand response (DR) event, peak demand might not be cut, capacity prices could spike and that somebody could make a lot of money.

    Because of the fast-rising number of grid-connected devices in DR programs like smart thermostats and water heaters and the even faster-rising number of smart phones and other Internet technologies through which customers communicate with DR programs, market manipulations like that are possible, cybersecurity experts from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) told the Demand Response World Forum October 17. It is one of many potential intrusions of communications between utilities and customers with grid connected devices and distributed energy resources (DER), they said.

    To counter these threats, data analytics experts are using the laws of physics and unprecedented masses of data to find cybersecurity breaches. And their work is leading to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms which, though only just beginning to find actual deployment, are expected to soon advance the ability to identify patterns to the intrusions and raise the level of protection for critical power systems.

    Collaborations between utilities and researchers at U.S. national labs are revealing new protections but also new challenges to secure data management that must be addressed. ML and AI can help utilities protect themselves and their customers from cyberattacks, but only if utilities can allow these new allies access to the data and systems that need protection.

    Connected devices. exceeded the world's 7.3 billion population in 2014, EPRI Senior Program Manager Rish Ghatikar told the DR conference. At the 31.7% growth rate of U.S. connected homes reported by McKinsey for 2017, there were "over 1 billion connected home devices" in the U.S. by the end of 2018, he estimated. Each of those homes could have as many as 10 grid-connected devices, ranging from laptops and wireless modems to smart thermostats and smart inverter-based solar plus storage systems.

    Businesses' internet-connected technology may be even more under assault, he added. In the first half of 2019, almost 38% of computers used in smart building systems were affected by cyberattacks, Navigant Research reported October 28. EPRI is developing a framework to identify cybersecurity assets, threats, key players, and architectures on which researchers, utilities and device vendors can focus to find solutions, EPRI Engineer Scientist Alekhya Vaddiraj told the conference… click here for more

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